Chapter 3

Sephiroth took one of the belts from the wall and strapped it on. He pulled a slender metal tube from it and spun it around in his hand. It weighed next to nothing, but the balance was good. He supposed that was due to the almost organic looking extension at its end, where the crossguard would have been on a normal sword.

He held it out before him and pressed his fingers in tightly.

A long, curved blade of magical energy shot from its opening, extending almost six feet.

He nodded appreciatively.

It was no replacement for his lost Masamune, that was certain. If possible, he would recover his sword. But he did not have it now, and if he had to wield another weapon, this one certainly would do.

When Aeris had first told him that the facility in which they were trapped possessed a training room, he had immediately decided to investigate. Discovering these energy blades had been more than he could have asked.

Now, he split his time between deciphering the computer system and training with these weapons.

The former was constant aggravation. Aeris could read the script, but Sephiroth knew far better how to operate a computer. He could think of no more inefficient way to work than that. Their combined efforts had yielded next to nothing.

Certainly, they had not yielded a way out.

He lashed out at the air in front of him, brought his blade around in a butterfly cut, then switched to a figure-eight motion. He finished the move with a thrust.

In contrast to the irritation of working with the facility’s computers, his training gave him peace. Between him and the sword there were no secrets. With it alone, he could be completely honest.

He spun into the air and hovered there for a moment, rhythmically switching from forehand to backhand stance.

Only in the arts of war could he find peace.

That was how it had always been, before his madness.

Fame, wealth, power - all were heaped upon him, but such things held no meaning for him. He had not cared about the medals he was given, the women who threw themselves at him, the luxuries President Shinra had heaped upon him.

He fought because he loved to fight, because he lived to fight.

He dropped to the ground, flipping upside down and switching to a left handed stance. Sword at his side, he rolled to his feet and slashed at the air in front of him.

Then he spun around, arcing the blade downwards through the air.

He shut it off a split second before it bit into Aeris’ flesh.

“What are you doing?” he demanded. He wasn’t sure if he was angrier at her for doing something so stupid as approaching him as he went through his exercises, or with himself for allowing her to enter without being noticed.

Her eyes wide, she took a step back. “I’m... I’m sorry,” she whispered.

He scowled. “Do not do this again,” he said.

“I won’t,” she said quickly. He did not doubt that. Her mind often worked in ways which he could not begin to comprehend, but she was certainly not stupid.

Of course, even if she did it again, he would not allow it. If Aeris had been an enemy instead of... what she was... he would have been dead already. His powers were returning, and his skills coming back into practice. But five years of madness, of believing that he was an unstoppable, inhuman monster, had not done wonders for his technique.

Careless, dammit!

He could not afford to be that.

Never.

He slid the energy blade’s hilt into the belt he’d found it in. “I take it you found something?” he asked.

She nodded. “Yes. That’s why I rushed here to find you. It’s important... at least, I think it is.”

Whatever it was had clearly shaken her. He raised an eyebrow. “Show me.”

They left the training room and she led him down one of the featureless halls. Although the touch-panel walls were almost everywhere, different rooms seemed to have different levels of access.

He was surprised that she’d found him, and that she could find her way back. The mazelike facility had nearly baffled him, and his SOLDIER training had prepared him to navigate almost anything. With a few exceptions, each room looked the same - greyish- white, sterile, featureless. The passages were laid out in a perfectly regular fashion, with no distinguishing marks he could detect.

Aeris paused outside one of the doors.

“You aren’t coming?” Sephiroth asked.

She lowered her eyes. “I’d... rather not see it again.”

Sephiroth strode through the doorway. The room inside was much like any of the others - sterile, austere, and featureless. But on its far wall, a cluster of six panels was still active.

And unlike the other screens he’d seen, this one did not display line after line of what he assumed was Cetra lettering. It showed a man’s face.

Sephiroth raised an eyebrow.

The man on the screen wore what looked like a combat uniform, albeit of a cut Sephiroth had never seen before.

A recording.

Sephiroth placed his hand on one of the Cetra characters at the bottom of the screen, and it began playback.

“This will be the final log entry from Core Command,” said the man on the screen. His voice was deep, crisp and military, but betrayed signs of exhaustion. “The facility has been infiltrated by an independent -Menace- entity, presumably one that was in orbit around us at the time of the Sundering. We cannot resist it with the weapons we have here. I have issued a command to evacuate the civilian Keepers. The remaining armed forces will deploy on the surface and attempt to contain the entity there. The civilian Keepers will continue to prepare for the Seeker’s arrival, following the -Vanir- Plan.”

The man paused. He reached down and pulled from his belt an energy blade similar to the one Sephiroth had found.

The door opened. Two others, a man and a woman dressed in similar attire to the first man, entered the room. “Commander,” the man said, “the -Menace- has... the civilians...”

“God have mercy on us all,” the first man whispered. He gasped. “Then no one is left to find the -Heirs-?”

Before he could receive an answer, a shadow appeared in the doorway. A pair of tendrils shot forth. Both of the new arrivals slumped to the ground, and a creature which nearly filled the room seemed to almost flow in.

Sephiroth’s eyes widened. He recognized that form all too easily.

The first man, the one who had made the recording, activated his blade.

He never stood a chance.

The log flickered into darkness.

Sephiroth took a step back.

Jenova had been here. In this place, before it was trapped on the surface. Centuries before it was awakened by ShinRa, before it lent the power of its genetic code to Sephiroth.

It had been a monster then, as now. Just as he was. How could he have ever thought otherwise? Why, he hadn’t even realized just what a monster he’d been.

No!

His hand tightened around the hilt of his energy blade.

He was not Jenova.

He was Sephiroth.

He would not give in to his nature.

Wordlessly, he stepped out of the room.

“Is it... what I think?” Aeris asked.

He nodded.

She closed her eyes and leaned back against the wall. “I’m sorry,” she said.

More likely, you are afraid, he thought. He looked down at her. No, she meant what she’d said. She truly was sorry. Sorry for him.

The blood of her people was on his hands, not the other way around. Why should she feel sorry for him because of what he’d seen? Not for the first time, he couldn’t help but wonder if she was not more insane than he had been.

But that didn’t matter.

“We have something to search for,” he said.

She looked up.

It was good that she had found the recording. If the former inhabitants had considered evacuating, there had to be a way to leave. “The man in the recording spoke of one called the ‘Seeker’, and of ‘-Heirs-’. I want to know what he meant by that.”

Slowly, she nodded.

He put his hand on her shoulder and guided her into the room across the way. She would not want to return to the room with the recording. Frankly, Sephiroth didn’t care to do so, either.

He pulled a chair over to one of the walls and folded his arms.

Aeris sat down. After a moment, her fingers touched the wall. It sprang to life.

Her fingers played across the screen, moving through the virtual passages of the databank, just as he had - with limited success - shown her.

Sephiroth watched the Cetra letters go by. She, too, had been teaching him. He had a natural aptitude for learning and adapting. Whether that was due to his Jenova-enhanced cells, or to something inherited from his human parents, he couldn’t say. He could read most of the letters already, although he was by no means as fluent as Aeris.

“Stop,” he said.

She did so.

“What is that?” he asked, noting one of the long, elaborate characters which denoted an especially important word or phrase.

“The ‘Convergence’?” Aeris shook her head. “I don’t know what it means. I’ve seen it a few times, though. It’s something terribly important, from the way its referred to.”

Sephiroth had heard it before. But where?

He stared at the screen. Of course! Hojo’s notes in the ShinRa Mansion had referred to it. They had been brief transcripts of conversations between Professor Ghast and Ifalna.

“Cross reference that with ‘The Seeker’,” he instructed, resting his hands on the back of the chair.

After a few taps on the screen, a new page appeared.

Aeris gasped.

A moment later, only all of Sephiroth’s discipline kept him from doing the same.